Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Cooking

From the food editor: A Strawberry Banana Smoothie recipe for breakfast lovers and haters alike

Let's talk about breakfast.

I am very passionate about the first meal of the day, often going to bed in anticipation of it, dreaming of hot waffles and eggs and orange juice and a steamy cup of coffee.

Reality is often far from that, as my love for breakfast does not extend to a general love for the morning hours. I am not someone who can wake before the sun, refreshed and ready to take on the day. I am someone who snoozes an alarm 12 times and then gets frazzled when there's no milk in the fridge for my Flax Flakes.

But it's always a priority for me, mostly because my stomach will literally start growling by 9:30 a.m. if it's not full of food. So my interest was piqued by a recent study the New York Times highlighted that suggested we should be eating our biggest meal in the morning and our smallest meal at night.

According to the Times: "A recent review of the dietary patterns of 50,000 adults who are Seventh Day Adventists over seven years provides the latest evidence suggesting that we should front-load our calories early in the day to jump-start our metabolisms and prevent obesity, starting with a robust breakfast and tapering off to a smaller lunch and light supper, or no supper at all. "

The American Heart Association has even gone so far as to say that when we eat our meals may be an important factor in reducing the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. In particular, they "issued a scientific statement emphasizing that skipping breakfast — which 20 to 30 percent of American adults do regularly — is linked to a higher risk of obesity and impaired glucose metabolism or diabetes."

I'm trying to work larger breakfasts into my daily routine, and have noticed it helps curb my snacking a lot. But for those times when a long, luxurious breakfast isn't in the cards, it's still wise to get something into your system. Something quick but filling, healthy but able to satisfy the most bleary-eyed among us.

Enter the smoothie.

Specifically, this Strawberry Banana Smoothie, which has become my morning go-to.

Smoothies don't have the greatest reputation healthwise; they are prone to being icy sugar bombs that fill you up for about 10 minutes.

But this smoothie aims to do better, with help from a couple key ingredients. The first: kefir.

It's a fermented product that's like drinkable yogurt, and it's packed with gut-friendly probiotics and also 11 grams of protein per cup, both of which will help keep you full longer. (I use the plain kind to avoid any added sugars; you can sub plain yogurt in a pinch.)

It also aids in the blending of your smoothie, which is a crucial part of smoothie building: Make every ingredient do the maximum amount of work for you.

After the kefir comes a bit of almond milk, which adds flavor and helps keep things liquefied. Then it's time for the produce. I primarily use fruit, but the addition of avocado adds some healthy fats into the mix. Adding greens like kale would make the smoothie more watery, but you certainly could; just cut back on one of the fruits.

My go-to fruits are bananas and strawberries because they have a lower water content than other fruits, and I like my smoothies thick. And cold. Freezing the produce the night before means you don't need ice, which will water down a smoothie, and that most of your prep work is done by the time you wake up.

The final key ingredient here is protein powder, which I have been curious about for a couple months but mostly scared of trying due to the sheer amount of ingredients many of these powders contain (often to mask the unpleasant taste of protein in its natural state).

I Googled around for cleaner options, and discovered pea protein, a dairy-free protein supplement that is actually a complete protein, which means it contains all nine of the essential amino acids useful in muscle building. Two days later, I stumbled upon a container of unsweetened pea protein at Trader Joe's for $12, a relative steal. And the ingredient list? There's only one: pea protein.

Comments
Here’s the skinny on the ketogenic diet: What it is, how to follow it properly

Here’s the skinny on the ketogenic diet: What it is, how to follow it properly

It started with jugs of olive oil and cans of tuna, lots of it, which my husband hauled in one day and plunked on the counter. "That’s my lunch!"That was about three months ago, and every day since there has been a new entity in our house to consider...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Five ideas for rainbow-themed foods to serve at your Pride party

Five ideas for rainbow-themed foods to serve at your Pride party

More than 50,000 people are estimated to attend Pride weekend in St. Petersburg, which runs Friday to Sunday. (June is LGBTQ Pride Month.) Whether you plan to march in the parade or host your own smaller gathering, we’ve selected five rainbow-themed ...
Published: 06/20/18
My husband has been on the ketogenic diet for three months. Here’s how he does it.

My husband has been on the ketogenic diet for three months. Here’s how he does it.

This week I wrote about something with which I have become very familiar: the ketogenic diet. If you’re like, "Huh?" you are where I was three months ago, before my husband, Phil, embarked on the weight-loss regimen. The keto diet is a high-fat, low-...
Updated: 6 hours ago
A perfect pick for dessert

A perfect pick for dessert

America’s Test KitchenIt might seem impossible to improve on a perfect peach, but we decided to try. We wanted a simple, warm dessert that amplified the peaches’ flavor. To achieve tender, flavorful peaches with a lightly sweet glaze, we began by tos...
Published: 06/19/18
Everything you need to know about marinating meat

Everything you need to know about marinating meat

For a lot of home cooks, marinating meat is almost as automatic as cooking the meat itself. Douse the meat in some kind of flavored liquid, pop it in the refrigerator overnight and cook it the next day.Seems straightforward enough, but there are reas...
Published: 06/19/18
Taste test: Chocolate chip cookies

Taste test: Chocolate chip cookies

When we started seeing ads for Nestle Toll House cookies already baked and prepackaged, I knew it was time for our tasters to get involved. They are cookie lovers, and one even has his own cookiemaking business. We found the Nestle brand and had hope...
Published: 06/18/18
Take grilled potatoes to another level with garlic and rosemary

Take grilled potatoes to another level with garlic and rosemary

By AMERICA’S TEST KITCHENGrilled potatoes are a summer classic. We wanted to put a new spin on this dish by adding rosemary and garlic. Unfortunately, we found it was difficult to add enough flavor to plain grilled potatoes. Coating the potatoes with...
Published: 06/13/18
Recipe for Stuffed Beef Burgers

Recipe for Stuffed Beef Burgers

Hidden inside these tame-looking burgers is a smoky and spicy blend of bacon, chipotle, cheese and something unexpected: pepperoni. Because the ground beef part of these burgers is patted fairly thin, there’s less of a chance you’ll undercook it. For...
Published: 06/13/18
How to cook eggs for dinner: shakshuka, carbonara and more

How to cook eggs for dinner: shakshuka, carbonara and more

Eggs are an underutilized dinner ingredient. Aside from fried rice and a breakfast-for-dinner situation, I rarely use eggs in my cooking past the hour of 4 p.m. It makes no sense. Eggs are a great source of protein, able to be cooked in myriad ways, ...
Published: 06/12/18
Add some sweet heat to your cookout with these jerk chicken skewers

Add some sweet heat to your cookout with these jerk chicken skewers

By Matt BrooksBurgers and dogs may be the traditional staples of a cookout, but when you’re craving something more than meat on bun, a well-assembled skewer is a colorful showstopper on the grill.It’s scientifically proven that food tastes better whe...
Published: 06/12/18